Commentary and Newsletters

Anne Bayefsky

Jeane Kirkpatrick 1926 - 2006

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick
To say Jeane was exceptional is an understatement. She was an exceptional diplomat, exceptional scholar, and above all, an exceptional human being. Jeane served as US-UN Ambassador from 1981 to 1985 and more recently in 2003 as Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission. The job of US-UN Ambassador is not a pleasant one, since everything one holds dear and assumes erroneously that democratic allies do too is up for grabs all the time. It was a testament to Jeane's love for her country and strength of purpose that she agreed to go back to the UN and its Human Rights Commission at the age of 76, where she found herself under constant attack as the human rights bad guy among fellow members which included a Libyan Chair, Syria and Sudan. In this environment, Jeane exhibited her trademark qualities that made her great.

She just said no. She would not be pushed into actions inimical to her deeply ingrained sense of decency and justice, no matter how unpopular it made her in the midst of a menacing crowd of bullies and thugs. When everyone else was intimidated Jeane was not. She never forgot who and what she represented, and strongly believed there was no substitute for clarity of vision and goals. Ironically, this made her unpalatable to most in the human rights movement, who have never understood either the threat to our way of life or the deeply humanistic character that drove whatever Jeane Kirkpatrick did. She will be sorely missed.